THE DEACON'S WEEK
WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
ROSE TERRY COOKE
Zbc ipilGrim press
THE DEACON'S WEEK
THE DEACON'S WEEK
nPHE communion service of January was
* just over in the church at Sugar
Hollow, and people were waiting for Mr.
Parkes to give out
the hymn, but he did
not give it out ; he
laid his book down
on the table, and
looked about on his
He was a man of
simplicity and sincer-
ity, fully in earnest to
do his Lord's work, _ _
and do it with all his ~ zlz
might, but he did sometimes feel discouraged.
His congregation was a mixture of farmers
and mechanics, for Sugar Hollow was cut in
two by Sugar Brook, a brawling, noisy stream
6 THE DEACON'S WEEK
that turned the wheel of many a mill and
manufactory, yet on the hills around it there
was still a scattered population eating their
bread in the full perception of the primeval
curse. So he had to contend with the keen
brain and skeptical comment of the men who
piqued themselves on power to hammer at
theological problems as well as hot iron, with
the jealousy and repulsion and bitter feeling
that has bred the communistic hordes abroad
and at home ; while perhaps he had a still
harder task to awaken the sluggish souls of
those who used their days to struggle with
barren hillside and rocky pasture for mere
food and clothing, and their nights to sleep
THE DEACON'S WEEK J
the dull sleep of physical fatigue and mental
It seemed sometimes to Mr. Parkes that
nothing but the trump of Gabriel could
arouse his people from their sins and make
them believe on the Lord and follow his
footsteps. To-day — no, a long time before
to-day — he had mused and prayed till
an idea took shape in his thought, and
now he was to put it in practice; yet he
felt peculiarly responsible and solemnized
as he looked about him and foreboded the
success of his experiment. Then there
flashed across him, as words of Scripture
will come back to the habitual Bible reader,
the noble utterance of Gamaliel concerning
Peter and his brethren when they stood
before the council : '* If this counsel or this
work be of men, it will come to nought: but
if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it." So
with a sense of strength the minister spoke.
'* My dear friends," he said, '' you all
know, though I did not give any notice to
that effect, that this week is the Week of
8 THE DEACON'S WEEK
Prayer. I have a mind to ask you to make it,
for this once, a week of practice instead. I
think we may discover some things, some
of the things of God, in this manner that
a succession of prayer meetings would not
perhaps so thoroughly reveal to us. Now
when I say this I don't mean to have you
go home and vaguely endeavor to walk
straight in the old way ; I w^ant you to
take ' topics/ as they are called, for the
prayer meetings. For instance, Monday is
prayer for the temperance work. Try all
that day to be temperate in speech, in act,
in indulgence of any kind that is hurtful
to you. The next day is for Sunday-
schools ; go and visit your scholars, such
of you as are teachers, and try to feel that
they have living souls to save. Wednesday
is a day for fellowship meeting ; we are
cordially invited to attend a union meeting
of this sort at Bantam. . Few of us can go
twenty-five miles to be with our brethren
there ; let us spend that day in cultivating
our brethren here ; let us go and see those
THE DEACON'S WEEK 9
who have been cold to us for some reason,
heal up our breaches of friendship, confess
our shortcomings one to another, and act
as if, in our Master's words, ' all ye are
*'Thursda\ i^ the day to pray for the
family relation ; let us each try to be to
our families on that day in our measure
what the Lord is to his family, the Church,
remembering the words, ' Fathers, provoke
not your children to anger;' 'Husbands,
love your wives, and be not bitter against
them.' These are texts rarely commented
upon, I have noticed, in our conference
meetings ; we are more apt to speak of
the obedience due from children, and the
submission and meekness our wives owe
us, forgetting that duties are always recip-
** Friday the Church is to be prayed for.
Let us • then each for himself try to act
that day just as we think Christ, our
great Exemplar, would have acted in our
places. Let us try to prove to ourselves.
THE DEACON'S WEEK
and the world about us that we have not
taken upon us his name Hghtly or in
vain. Saturday is prayer day for the heathen
and foreign missions. Brethren, you know
and I know that there are heathen at our
doors here ; let every one of you who will,
take that day to
preach the gos-
pel to some one
who does not
hear it anywhere
you will find work
that ye knew not
of lying in your
midst. And let
us all on Satur-
AMOS TUCKER meet here again
and choose some one brother to relate his
experience of the week. You who are will-
ing to try this method, please to rise."
Everybody rose except old Amos Tucker,
who never stirred, though his wife pulled at
THE DEACON'S WEEK I I
him and whispered to him imploringly. He
only shook his grizzled head and sat im-
*' Let us sing the doxology," said Mr.
Parkes ; and it was sung with full fervor.
The new idea had roused the church fully ;
it was something fixed and positive to do ;
it was the lever-point Archimedes longed
for, and each felt ready and strong to move
Saturday night the church assembled again.
The cheerful eagerness w^as gone from their
faces ; they looked downcast, troubled,
weary — as the pastor expected. When
the box for ballots was passed about, each
one tore a bit of paper from the sheet placed
in the hymn books for that purpose, and,
wTOte on it a name. The pastor said after
he had counted them : —
** Deacon Emmons, the lot has fallen on
" I 'm sorry for 't,'* said the deacon, rising up
and taking off his overcoat. *' I ha'n't got the
best of records, Mr. Parkes, now I tell ye."
12 THE DEACON'S WEEK
''That isn't what we want," said Mr.
Parkes. " We want to know the whole
experience of some one among us, and we
know you will not tell us either more or less
than what you did experience."
Deacon Emmons was a short, thickset
man, with a shrewd, kindly face and gray
hair, who kept the village store and had a
well-earned reputation for honesty.
''Well, brethren," he said, " I do' 'no' why
I should n't tell it. I am pretty well ashamed
of myself, no doubt, but I ought to be, and
maybe I shall profit by what I 've found out
these six days back. I'll tell you just as
" Monday, I looked about me to begin
with. I am amazinof fond of coffee, and
it a'n't good for me ; the doctor says it
a'n't, but dear me ! it does set a man up
good, cold mornings to have a cup of hot,
sweet, tasty drink, and I haven't had the
grit to refuse ! I knew it made me what
folks call nervous, and I call cross, before
night come ; and I knew it fetched on
THE DEA COX'S WEEK' I 3
spells of low spirits when our folks could n't
get a word out of me — not a good one,
any way ; so I thought 1 'd try on that to
begin with. I tell you it come hard ! I
hankered after that drink of coffee dread-
ful ! Seemed as though I could n't eat my
breakfast without it. More 'n I ever did
in my life before I feel to pity a man
that loves liquor ; but I feel sure they can
stop if they try, for I Ve stopped, and I 'm
a-goin' to stay stopped.
*' Well, come to dinner, there was another
fight. I do set by pie the most of anything.
I was fetched up on pie, as you may say.
Our folks always had it three times a day,
and the doctor, he 's been talkin' and talkin'
to me about eatin' pie. I have the dys-
pepsy like everything, and it makes me
useless by spells, and onreliable as a
weathercock. An' Dr. Drake, he says there
won't nothing help me but to diet. I
was readin' the Bible that morning while
1 sat waiting for breakfast, for 'twas Mon-
day, and wife was kind of set back with
14 THE DEACON'S WEEK
washin' and all, and I come acrost that
part where it says that the bodies of Chris-
tians are temples of the Holy Ghost. Well,
thinks I, we 'd ought to take care of 'em
if they be, and see that they 're kep' clean
and pleasant, like the church ; and nobody
can be clean nor pleasant that has dys-
pepsy. But come to pie, I felt as though
I could n't ! and, lo ye, I did n't ! I eet a
piece right against my conscience; facin'
what I knew I ought to do, I went and
done what I ought not to. I tell ye my
conscience made music of me consider'ble,
and I said then I would n't never sneer#at
a drinkin' man no more when he slipped ilp.
I 'd feel for him and help him, for I see
just how it was. So that day's practice giv'
out, but it learnt me a good deal more 'n I
'' I started out next day to look up my
Bible class. They have n't really tended up
to Sunday-school as they ought to, along
back, but I was busy, here and there, and
there did n't seem to be a real chance to
THE DEACOyS WLhh
get to it. Well, 'twould take the evenin'
to tell it all. but I found one real sick,
been abed for three weeks, and was so
crlad to see me that I felt fair ashamed.
Seemed as though I heerd the Lord for
the first time sayin', ' Inasmuch as ye did
it not to one of the least of these, ye
did it not to me/ Then another man's old
mother says to rae before he come in from
the shed, says she, * He 's been a-sayin'
that if folks practiced what they preached
you *d ha' come round to look him up afore
now, but he reckoned you kinder looked
1 6 THE DEACON'S WEEK
down on mill hands. I 'm awful glad you
come.' Brethring, so was If I tell you
that day's work done me good. I got a poor
opinion of Josiah Emmons, now I tell ye,
but I learned more about the Lord's wisdom
than a month o' Sundays ever showed me."
A smile he could not repress passed over
Mr. Parkes' earnest face. The deacon had
forgotten all external issues in coming so
close to the heart of things ; but the smile
passed as he said : —
'' Brother Emmons, do you remember
what the Master said, ' If any man will
do his will, he shall know of the doc-
trine, whether it be of God, or whether I
speak of myself? "
''Well, it's so'' answered the deacon;
'' it 's so right along. Why, I never thought
so much of my Bible class, nor took no
sech int'rest in 'em as I do to-day — not
since I begun to teach. I b'lieve they'll
come more reg'lar now, too.
'' Now come fellowship day. I thought
that would be all plain sailin' ; seemed as
THE DEACON'S WEEK
though 1 'd got warmed up till I felt pleasant
towardst everybody ; so I went around seein*
folks that was neighbors, and *twas easy;
but when I come home at noon spell,
Philur)' says, says she, * Square Tucker's
black bull is into th' orchard a-tearin' round,
and he 's knocked two lengths o' fence down
flat ! ' Well, the old Adam riz up then, you 'd
better b'lieve. That black bull has been
a-breakin* into my lots ever sence we got
in th* aftermath, and it's Square Tucker's
fence, and he won't make it bull-strong as
he 'd oughter, and that orchard was a young
one jest comin' to bear, and all the new
THE DEACON'S WEEK
wood crisp as cracklin's with frost. You 'd
better b'lieve I did n't have much feller-
feehn' with Amos Tucker. I jest put over
to his house and spoke up pretty free to
him, when he looked up and says, says he,
'Fellowship meetin' day, a'n't it. Deacon?'
I'd ruther he'd
ha' slapped my
face. I felt
as though I
should like to
the door. I
see pretty dis-
tinct what sort
of life I 'dbeen
. I . livin' all the
M^'^V^^ years I 'd
been a pro-
fessor, when I could n't hold on to my tongue
and temper one day ! "
'' Breth-e-ren," interrupted a slow, harsh
voice, somewhat broken with emotion, ''Til
tell the rest on 't. Josiah Emmons come
ant" ^", OUcuxm/?
7 nr I) J- n-() v <: w i- i- k'
around like a man an' a Christian right
there. He asked me for to forgive him,
and not to think 't was the fault of his
religion, because 'twas his 'n and nothin*
else. I think more of him to-day than I ever
done before. I was one that would n't say
I 'd practice with the rest of ye. I thought
't was everlastin' nonsense. I 'd ruther go to
forty-nine prayer meetin's than work at bein'
good a week. I b'lieve my hope has been
one of them that perish ; it ha'n't worked,
and I leave it behind to-day. I mean to
begin honest, and it was seein* one honest
Christian man fetched me round to't."
Amos Tucker sat down and buried his
grizzled head in his rough hands.
** Bless the Lord!" said the quavering
tones of a still older man from a far corner
of the house, and many a glistening eye
gave silent response.
Go on, Brother Emmons," said the min-
*'Well, when m .vi via; v^iMu^ i -i.L Lip to
make the fin- nnd my boy Joe had forgot
20 THE DEACON'S WEEK
the kindlin's. I 'd opened my mouth to give
him Jesse, when it come over me suddin
that this was the day of prayer for the family
relation. I thought I would n't say nothin'.
I jest fetched in the kindlin's myself, and
when the fire burnt up good I called wife.
'' ' Dear 'me ! ' says she. ' I Ve got such
a headache, 'Siah, but I 11 come in a minnit/
I did n't mind that, for w^omen are always
havin' aches, and I was jest a-goin' to say
so, when I remembered the tex' about not
bein' bitter against 'em, so I says, ' Philury,
you lay abed. I expect Emmy and me can
get the vittles to-day.' I declare she turned
over and give me sech a look ; why, it struck
right in. There was my wife, thai had
worked for an' waited on me twenty-odd
year, 'most scart because I spoke kind o'
feelin' to her. I went out and fetched in the
pail o' water she 'd always drawed herself,
and then 1 milked the cow. When I come
in Philury was up fryin' the potatoes, and
the tears a-shinin' on her white face. She
did n't say nothin', she 's kinder still, but she
THE DEACON'S WEEK
had lit no need to. I
felt a little meaner 'n
I did the day before.
But't wa' n't nothin'to
my condition when I
was a-goin\ towards
night, down the sullar
stairs for some apples,
so 's the children could
have a roast, and I
heered Joe up in the kitchen say to Emmy,
* I do b'lieve, Em, pa 's goin' to die.' ' Why,
J o s i a r F2 m -
'^ \ C^^W: mons, how you
I do ; he 's so
eve r 1 a s ti n '
can't but tliink
he's struck witn ucath.'
** I tell ye. brethren, I set right down wn
them sullar stairs and cried. I did, reely.
Seemed as though the Lord had turned
THE DEACON'S WEEK
and looked at me jest as he did at Peter.
Why, there was my own children never see
me act real fatherly
and pretty in all
their lives. I 'd
growled and scold-
ed and prayed at
'em, and tried to
fetch 'em up jest as
the twig is bent the
tree 's inclined, ye
know, but I had n't
never thought that
they 'd got right and
reason to expect I 'd
do my part as well
as they their 'n.
Seemed as though I was findin' out more
about Josiah Emmons' shortcomin's than was
'' Come around Friday I got back to the
store. I 'd kind o' left it to the boys the
early part of the week, and tilings was a
little cuterin', but I did have sens(^ not to
THE DEACON'S WEEK 23
tear round and use sharp words so much as
common. I began to think 'twas gettin'
easy to practice after five days, when in
come Judge Herrick's wife after some
curt'in calico. I had a han'some piece, all
done off with roses an' things, but there
was a fault in the weavin' — every now and
then a thin streak. She did n't notice it, but
she was pleased with the figures on 't, and
said she 'd take the w^hole piece. Well, jest
as I was wrappin' of it up, what Mr. Parkes
here said about tryin' to act jest as the Lord
would in our place, come acrost me. Why,
I turned as red as a beet, I know I did. It
made me all of a tremble. There was I, a
doorkeeper in the tents of my God, as
David says, really cheating and cheatin' a
woman ! I tell ye, brethren, I was all of a
sweat. ' Mis' Herrick,' says I, 'I don't
b'lieve you 've looked real close at this goods ;
't ain't thorough wove,' says I. So she did n't
take it ; but what fetched me was to think
how many times I *d done sech mean, onreli-
able little things to turn a penny, and all the
THE DEACON'S WEEK
time sayin' and prayin' that I wanted to be
like Christ. I kep' a-trippin' of myself up all
day jest in the ordinary business, and I was
a peg lower down when night come than I
was a Thursday. I 'd ruther, as far as the
hard work is concerned, lay a mile of four-
foot stone wall than undertake to do a man's
livin' Christian duty for twelve workin' hours ;
and the heft of that is, it's because I ain't
used to it and I ought to be.
////'. J'/.AiU.\ ■> \\I:l\I\
** So this mornin' came around, and I felt
a mite more cherk. T was missionary morn-
in', and seemed as if 'twas a sight easier to
preach than to practice. I thought I 'd begin
to old Mis' Vedder's. So I put a Testament
in my pocket and knocked to her door. Says
I, ' Good mornin', ma'am,' and then I stopped.
Words seemed to hang, somehow. I did n't
want to pop right out that I 'd come over to
try 'n' convert her folks. I hemmed and
26 THE DEACON'S WEEK,
swallered a little, and fin'lly I said, says I,
' We don't see you to meetin' very frequent,
" ' No, you don't ! ' says she as quick as
a wink. * I stay to home and mind my
'' 'Well, we should like to hev you come
along with us and do ye good,' says I, sort
'' ' Look a here. Deacon ! ' she snapped,
* I Ve lived alongside of you fifteen year, and
you knowed I never went to meetin' ; we
a'n't a pious lot, and you knowed it ; we 're
poorer 'n death and uglier 'n sin. Jim, he
drinks and swears, and Malviny do' 'no' her
letters. She knows a heap she had n't ought
to, besides. Now what are you a-comin'
here to-day for, I 'd like to know, and talkin'
so glib about meetin' ? Go to meetin' ! I '11
go or come, jest as I darn please, for all you.
Now get out o' this ! ' Why, she come at
me with a broomstick ! There was n't no need
on 't ; what she said was enough. \.hadnt
never asked her nor her'n to so much as
THE DEACON'S WEEK 2 J
thiniv o! j^oudncss ijcioK!. i iu;ii i went to
another place jest like that — 1 won't call no
more names ; and sure enough there was ten
children in rags, the hull of em, and the man
half drunk. He giv^' it to me, too ; and I
don't w^onder. I 'd never lifted a hand to serve
nor save 'em before in all these years. I 'd
said consider'ble about the heathen in foreign
parts, and give some little for to convert 'em,
and I had looked right over the heads of
them that was next door. Seemed as if I
THE DEACON'S WEEK
could hear Him say, ' These ought ye to have
done, and not have left the other undone.'
I could n't face another soul to-day, brethren.
I come home, and here I be. I ve been
searched through and through and found
wantin'. God be merciful to me a sinner ! "
He dropped into his seat and bowed his
head ; and many another bent, too. It was
plain that the deacon's experience was not
the only one among the brethren. Mr.
Parkes rose, and prayed as he had never
prayed before ; the week of practice had
fired his heart too. And it began a mem-
orable year for the church in Sugar Hollow ;
not a vear of excitement or enthusiasm, but
THE DF A COST'S WEEK 29
one wncii inc)' iujaru iiujir Lord saying as to
Israel of old, *' Go forward/' and they obeyed
his voice. The Sunday-school flourished,
the church ser\'ices were fully attended, every
good thing* was helped on its way, and
peace reigned in their homes and hearts,
imperfect, perhaps, as new growths are, but
still an ofishoot of the peace past under-
And another year they will keep another
w^eek of practice, by common consent.
WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
'THE DEACON AND MIS' BAXTER WENT TO SUNDAY-
WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
IT was a calm, sweet sunset. I had been
to church with the deacon in the morn-
ing, and, lying in the hammock, had read The
CongregationaHst while he arni '* Mis* Bax-
ter'* went to Sunday-school ; for I was only
a summer boarder at the farm, and, like most
summer boarders, I had left my work behind
me for a few weeks of absolute rest. I
thought I had done my full share when I
went to hear old Parson Simpson preach that
morning. Just now the deacon, having had
WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
his supper and done his chores, sat down on
the front doorstep to enjoy the utter quiet ;
and I lay stretched on the grass just below,
thinking of an article I had been reading.
Before us spread a vast amphitheater of fold-
ing hills, with silent, darkling forests clothing
every crest, their verdant foothills meeting in
a narrow intervale, and their blue distances
keeping well the secret of the hidden water-
courses that in the stillness sent up the plash
and fall of their downward leap and made
the air musical.
The deacon's benign face, wrinkled with
many a year of toil and trouble, seemed
touched with that solemn peace of the moun-
WHAT DEACOX HAXTLK SAW
tains. His kind old eyes were pathetic in
their expression of patient expectance. I
thought, glancing up at him, of the Psalm-
ist's words: ''I will lift up mine eyes unto
the hills, from whence cometh my help. My
help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven
and earth." But my mind was filled with a
sort of uncertain pleasure that yet I half
36 WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
doubted. I wanted the deacon's opinion, so
I interrupted his quiet.
'* Deacon/' said I, ''did you read a letter
in your last paper giving a man's reasons for
not wishing to join the church, though rang-
ing himself on the side of religion, signed
' Veza ' ? "
"Well, I did," said he. ''Poor feller!
poor feller ! " he added in a tone of the ten-
"Why," I resumed, "I liked it so much!
It's just the way I feel myself."
"Do ye? Well, well! Say, Cap'en, you
went to the war, did n't ye ? "
" Yes, I 'm glad and proud to say I did.
I was all through it, from the first volunteer-
ing to Lee's surrender. That 's where I got
the bullet in my hip that 's given me a limp,
and had those two fingers shot off, besides
two months of typhoid in camp at Talla-
" What made you go ? "
"Why, deacon, what else could a man do
who loved his country?"
H'l/AT DEACON BAXTER SAID 37
** Still, the' was some who stayed to home."
**That IS so, I 'm sorry to say."
** Well, now, I 'd like to ask a few questions
about it all. I could n't go myself. I was
lame from a boy ; put out my hip by a fall,
and 't was n't set right, so they would n't take
me. I did what I could to home, but I
always felt real interested in the hull thing ;
and when I beared you say the other day
somethin' about your old rigiment, I thought
I 'd like to have a dish of talk with ye about
it, and perhaps now 's a good time."
I did not think how the deacon had sud-
denly changed the subject from " Veza's"
letter and my sympathy with it ; for the w^ar
with its glorious results was the theme of all
others that interested me ; and all was just
now freshly recalled, as I searched eagerly
every day for the bulletins of my grand old
general's condition, dying by inches where
he lay on the heights of Mount McGregor,
spared by shot and shell to be tortured for
months with deadly and terrible disease.
** What shall I tell you about ?" I asked.
38 WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
''How came you first to think o' j'inin*
the army ? "
'' Why, I wanted to help fight the rebels, and
then I hoped to help do away with slavery;
that was a second thought, perhaps."
'' You did n't have any doubts nor hanker-
ings about which side you 'd fight on ? "
*' No ! I meant to be on the right side,
whether we beat or were whipped. But I
did n't expect to be beaten. I remember one
line of a verse I saw somewhere once kept
ringing and singing in my ears, —
' Forward, and God defend the right ! '
and I meant to help defend it."
'' I suppose you liked the folks in your com-
pany, too, and that made it pleasant for you ? "
** No, I did n't, not all of them. There
were some of the worst fellows I ever saw in
IVHAT DEACON BAXTER SAW 39
our regiment ; low rascals who cursed like
pirates and stole even our rations, if they
could get at them. I gave one fellow a good
sound kicking for swearing about Grant when
we got down to Shiloh. I don't believe he
used his vile tongue against the general for
one while again. Then there were a parcel
of gamblers, drunken bullies, who were good
food for powder, nothing else : a perfect
disgrace to the army."
*' I suppose they fit pretty well, though,
did n't they?"
*' No, sir ; the best men were the best
fighters. These fellows shirked and malin-
gered and ran when they got a chance. Lots
of *em deserted while w^e were near home ;
they could n't very well when we were in the
*' What made 'em join the army, do you
*' Oh, some of them did it for the sound of
it. They got excited ; they liked the interest
everybody felt then in volunteers ; they had
one eye on the pay and bounty, too. I
WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
think some of them expected 'twould be a
good thing for them afterward. It has proved
good capital for beggars ever since. Lots of
people will help an old soldier, w^ho would n't
give one cent to a common tramp."
'' I should n't think you 'd have liked to
fight alongside such folks."
''I didn't; but then my business was to
fight, whether or no. I 'd enlisted for the
war. The general was all right. I 'd got to
obey orders myself, and I could n't fall out of
IVI/AT DEACON BAXTER SAID 41
ranks because my ri^ht-haiul man in file was
half drunk, or the one on the left singing a
vile song. I did blow at them a good deal,
but 1 could n't desert in the face of the
'* Frhaps you would n't have 'listed if you 'd
known what sort of fellers was to be in your
rigiment ? "
**Why, yes, I should. I tell you I wanted
to fight those confounded rebels. I did n't
care who went along, if I only went myself.
I w^as going to fight my country's battles,
whether the men along with me w^ere good
or bad. I did n't trouble my head about
"You want airaid folks would think you
was one of em ? "
** I did n't think about it any way. I 'd
got to march, to forage, to camp, to fight, to
retreat ; in short, to obey orders. I did n't
stop to consider what the stay-at-homes
thought about me or my comrades."
*' You had a pretty hard time ? "
** Yes, but that we expected after w^e got
42 V/IIAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
used to the business. It was n't play ; it was
'' Ain*t you a little queer ? " said he, looking
at me with sad, serious eyes. '' You did all
this, and you won't enlist under the Lord of
Hosts because there 's just such a lot of folks
takes the name of his soldiers upon them-
selves as there was in the fedVal army."
I sat dumb.
The deacon went on : '' Can't you obey His
orders, and fight under him same as you did
under Grant because there is hypocrites and
backsliders in his Church ? What if you 'd
said, ' I '11 fight on my own hook rather than
beside these scallawags and rascals ; I won't
enlist, but I '11 take my gun and go raiding
around, and do my level best without wearin'
uniform or gettin' into line or under orders ' ?
If that is the right way to fight, why don't
people do it ? Why don't the generals say,
'Go along, do your best; whatever 's right
in your own eyes, foller that ' ? Why, there
would be no race nor people left on the face
of the airth, if they done so. Here's this
< <. <.'. \ /> » .\ /
poor ' Veza/ he s too good to eat with pubH-
cans and sinners at his Master's table. Is
the disciple above his Lord ? Just look back
and see how Jesus Christ fixed the first Chris-
tian Church, and who was in it. There w^as
Thomas, who would n't believe the Lord was
risen onless he could put his finger right into
the nail holes in his hands. That was n't a
great deal like faith, was it ? Then there was
Peter went and denied him three times, and
the Lord knew he was goin' to do it ; and
well he knew that Judas would betray him
into the hands of them that would crucify
him on the cross. But he sat down with
them all at the table, and gave to them
his last commands, and shared with them the
sacramental bread and wine. Why, I think
he did it a-purpose, so 's that we should not
set ourselves up above anybody.
** I suppose it's natural that you and this
* Veza,' and a good many other folks, should
feel the way you do, for I Ve been there my-
self before now. There 's been times when
I have knowed evil about church members.
44 IVI/AT DEACON BAXTER SAID
and such evil that it seemed as though I
couldn't pass the bread and wine to 'em, or
take it myself in their comp'ny ; but some-
how I fell back on the Lord, how he set there
and ate the supper with them he knowed
well was false and murderous and deceitful ;
and I thought if he could do it, who was I to
set up that I could n't ?
''*Veza' says he knows there is better
Christians in the Church than he is. Well,
if that 's so, why can't he train with them ?
And how does he know but what some of
these folks he despises are sayin' in their
own hearts, ' God be merciful to me a sin-
ner ! ' whilst that he is thankin' God that he
is n't as they are ?
'' I tell you, folks don't seem to under-
stand that a man has got to grow in grace in
the Church. It is a strait gate and a narrow
way, and people will stray and stumble
therein ; but after all Christ says, ' Enter in
at the strait gate,' and ' Whosoever therefore
shall confess me before men, him will I con-
fess also before my Father which is in
heaven ; but whosoever shall deny me be-
fore men, him will I also deny before my
Father which is in heaven.' There's your
orders, Cap'en." And the old man looked
at me with such a grand, sweet look that I
turned my own face -aw^w T wns not rrady
Presently, however, words came to me.
** But, Deacon Baxter, you must own that
the sins and shortcomings of so-called Chris-
tians are a great stumbling-block to many."
** Yes, to them that want to stumble ; but
I never yet heard anybody that was really
new- hearted and in dead airnest to serve the
Lord, who was kept out of the Church by
the poor professors in it, any more than you
was kept out of the fedVal army by the ras-
cals and dead beats you knowed was in your
rigiment when you 'listed. I am willin', and
more than willin', to allow that the average
church member don't live as he 'd ought
to live, and them that do ought to stir up
them that don't.
'' The Lord said to Peter, ' When thou art
46 WHAT DEACON BAXTER SAID
converted strengthen thy brethren,' as much
as to say Peter was n't converted ; yet he
was one of the twelve, one of the visible
Church ; so I believe there is some in every
church who ain't converted, and when they
are, why, their duty is to strengthen the rest
from their own experience. And there 's
some that are backsliders ; they 've died
down to the roots, as you may say, same as
young trees will in a cold winter or a long
dry spell ; but, if the livin' root is in them,
they '11 sprout up ag'in an' grow. If it is n't,
then they '11 have to be cast into the fire, for
what I see. But neither for you nor for this
'Veza,' Cap'en, is there any gettin' away
from the Word of God. * He that is not for
me is against me.' And I can't add nothing
to the Word of the Lord ; for it is his, not
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